If you’re depriving yourself in the name of being frugal, you are missing the point.
I’m afraid I was getting too caught up in trying to spend $35 on groceries in a week. It seems to be the gold standard among the frugal blogosphere, and I’m afraid I have continued to perpetuate that magic number.
In reality, spending $35 a week on groceries is in fact doable for two adults. Some people are able to spend even less and feed themselves. As long as you’re happy and comfortable in doing that, keep on truckin’, folks.
If you’re going through particularly tough times, or are eating beans n’ rice to help you pay off debts (as sometimes suggested by Dave Ramsey on his radio show), then by all means, stick to spending as little as possible to get you through it.
But, if you have wiggle room in your budget and you are getting tired of el cheapo meals, give yourself a break.
The whole point of cutting back on your grocery costs is so you’ll have more money to use in other areas. It’s to make your dollar stretch as far as it can go, while still feeding your family well. It’s to remove unnecessary expensive convenience foods from your shopping cart.
It’s NOT intended to make you feel deprived, or worse, make you rebel against frugality altogether.
Last week, I was really frustrated with my grocery shopping. I had absolutely no desire to try to spend $35 for the week. I was sick of the meals I had been preparing (simple and tasty, but getting old!) and I wanted a change.
So, I prepared a menu for the week that has more fun foods that I had been craving. Last night, we had steak fajitas. We haven’t had steak in…oh, a really long time. I can’t say that I really like steak, but it was a nice change over the typical ground beef fare.
On Valentine’s Day, I’m going to try to prepare some restaurant-style food. We’re having stuffed mushrooms and Alice Springs chicken a la Outback steakhouse. It might not taste as good as the restaurant version, but I’m going to give it a good effort.
And, at some point this week, I’m going to try to recreate a smoked salmon chowder similar to one that we had on a cruise ship. Ambitious, I know.
Last week at Giant Eagle, I spent $35. Then, I went on to spend about $25 at Aldi. My husband, Shane, spent about $10 at Giant Eagle to get a few odds and ends we also needed. So, we’re looking at oh, $70 for the week.
I’ve had weeks where I’ve spent half of that and felt fine about it, honestly.
But right now, it’s either I eat an interesting meal at home, or I’m going to want to go to a restaurant (which will cost a lot more anyway, and I don’t think it even tastes that great).
I wrote this post with the goal of making a few points.
- First, I wanted to show some transparancy, and that I don’t always spend a tiny amount on groceries for the week.
- It can be dangerous to compare ourselves to others. Just because one frugal gal regularly spends $xx.xx on groceries doesn’t mean you can or should. Just view others’ amounts as possibilities, and use them to inspire you, not frustrate you.
- Don’t deprive yourself or your family. If you aren’t getting fruits or vegetables, you need to make room for them in your budget if at all possible. And, if you’re sick of $2 dinner fare, add a nicer meal once or twice a week to even it out.
I feel a lot better this week about my groceries. I feel like I’ve regained some control over it all, rather than letting an arbitrary dollar amount rule my life.
In the future, I do plan to spend less than $70/week on groceries. Right now, I’m thinking my goal should be somewhere around $35-55 per week, depending on what we need (and yes, an extra special dinner once in awhile is a need).
But, if I have weeks where I end up spending more, I’m not going to count that as a frugal failure.
Kind of related: See Amy’s post here.